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From The Vaults

Gary Staiger Condemned Complacency — Urged Fellow Democrats To “Get Off Their Asses”

Gary Staiger died on Thanksgiving day of a suspected heart attack.  He was 62 years old.  Gary was found in his car on W. Third Street, evidently trying to drive himself to the VA hospital. See David Esrati’s post here.

The first time I saw Gary Staiger was during a meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee. I first became a member of the Committee in 2006. Gary rose to urge the group to take a stand concerning the Iraq War. The passion and urgency of his message impressed me.

Gary Staiger

The last time I spoke with Gary was in his music shop on Main Street — a testimony that we should always follow our best impulses — just this summer. I made a point to go, finally, to his place of business and to make a small purchase — a Neil Young CD.

Gary’s passionate speeches to the MCDP Central Committee are somewhat captured in a post Gary wrote April 8th, 2008. In that post, Gary complained pointedly:  “Where is the Outrage??” He asked: “How is it that we can have such opposition to the Bush Administration’s war policies and yet not be able to get a dozen people to join an anti-war protest here in Dayton?”

He wrote:

Where is the “leadership” of the local Democratic party on this critical issue??? and, please, don’t respond with that lame crap about how “we are LOCAL elected officials and anti-war issues are not our thing…” I’m not buying it, and you should be ashamed to offer it as an excuse for your inactivity.

The War goes on, and the American public, having been lulled into complacency, appears comatose in the face of impending disaster, unable or unwilling to take the time to do the right thing, get off their asses confront our “leadership” and demand an end to this war.

Wake up America. It’s way past time for the wake up call.

Gary, thanks for trying to wake us up. You are gone much too soon.
I thought I’d post a Neil Young video in your honor, and I think I’ve found the right one:

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2 comments to Gary Staiger Condemned Complacency — Urged Fellow Democrats To “Get Off Their Asses”

  • Stan Hirtle

    Unfortunately Gary’s legacy will be difficult in that with the demise of the auto industry, the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the surrounding academic and research complex have become the main employers around which the Dayton area hopes to build its economic future. The military industrial complex has been a major economic engine, scattered around most congressional districts, since before Eisenhower warned about it, and military Keynesianism seems to be the only kind of Keynesianism we can get away with. The military has also remained a major source of opportunity, particularly in rural and small town America where other opportunities are highly limited. In addition to the being the force that gives us employment it is often also the force that gives us meaning (the title of Chris Hedges’ great book). We will see if the deficit cutting agenda does in fact take a look at the the costs and benefits of overseas bases and wars, particularly those involving long term occupations in complex and difficult parts of the world. However a sustainable modern peacetime economy is not something we have seen. Nor have we figured out ways to resolve the disputes over resources, respect and injustice in the world by investing in peacemaking rather than warmaking. Dayton may be ground zero, so to speak, in such an effort.

  • Frank Renfrow

    Sorry to see this. I knew Gary way back in the early 1970s. If you go to Youtube and look up “Vietnam Veterans throwing medals” you will see the young Gary throwing his medals over the fence while John Kerry is in line close behind him to do so also. This was at the massive April 23, 1971 march on Washington, I was there also. Gary was very active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War activities at that time. In 1979, Gary, along with my dad Lou Renfrow, and African-American community activist Clarence Dabney started a Dayton Veterans group called the Veterans Coalition for Peace. Sorry to see he was having a rough time of it prior to his passing. I can relate as I am reaching his age when he died this year, as I was a few years younger.

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